How To Choose the Best Dog Collar

Above all, your dog’s collar needs to fit correctly, but to choose the best dog collar, you also need to consider your dog’s lifestyle and your own. For instance, if your dog is an active swimmer, a nylon dog collar would be a better choice than a leather dog collar, as the former is easier to clean and dries quickly. In addition to collar materials, the closures (like buckles and clips) on collars can play a large role in determining which collar is best for your dog — if you need to remove your dog’s collar regularly, a plastic clip closure will be much more convenient than a belt-buckle-style closure. Taking a step back and determining what features you want in a collar, before you start shopping, will help you narrow down your choices greatly. Once a style is chosen, you can fine-tune your options like fit, durability, and design.

How To Comfortably Fit a Dog Collar

A common rule of thumb for determining the appropriate length is to measure your dog’s neck with a fabric tape measure (like tailors use) and add two inches to the measurement. When properly fitted, the extra two inches should allow you to place two fingers between the collar and your dog’s neck when the collar is secured. It’s important to leave this wiggle room, so if your dog’s neck size is right on the high-end of a collar’s measurements, you should choose the next size up. 

The collar’s construction affects its comfort as well. It should lie flat around your dog’s neck, including the buckle so that it doesn’t rub or create any pressure points. If you have a small puppy or small breed, the collar should be as lightweight as possible. Many puppies object to collars at first, so the lighter the better until he gets used to it. Dog collars are available in sizes ranging from extra small to extra large; not only are the smaller sizes shorter in length, but they’re also narrower, making them less objectionable to small dogs and puppies.

How To Choose a Puppy Collar

You’ll have to buy multiple adjustable collars as your puppy grows. And it’s important, as it is even with adult dogs, to monitor the fit of his collar and make sure to adjust or replace it before it gets too tight. As with any collar, you can check to see if it is too tight by inserting two fingers in the space between the collar and your puppy’s neck; if not your fingers don’t fit, he likely needs a bigger collar.

Safety and Security

The main purpose of a dog collar is to keep your dog safe and secure when he is outside your home. To this end, the collar should include the dog’s name along with your contact information, in case he gets loose and goes missing. This identification can be in the form of a tag or better yet, embroidered directly onto a personalized collar since tags can fall off. Ideally, the ID information should be prominent enough so that it’s readable from a short distance in case your dog is lost and scared and won’t let anyone get too close.

In addition to his ID, make sure to attach his rabies and license tags because they’re also important if he goes astray; a sturdy metal D ring is critical for this purpose. As an additional safeguard, consider getting a reflective collar, so your dog can be seen in low light conditions.

There’s another obvious reason for a dog collar: to attach a leash securely, which also requires a rugged D-ring, adequately sized for this purpose. Again, not all dog collar hardware is made to the same standards, so it’s important to choose a brand that is known for its quality.


The collar itself should be made of high-quality material with superior workmanship, so that it will not degrade or fail over time, no matter what kind of abuse your dog—and the elements—dole out. The buckle should be engineered to remain securely closed, except when you release it to remove the collar—which should be almost effortless.


For some people, form is as important as function, which means the dog collar needs to look good and, ideally, represent your dog’s character, personality, and/or breed. Once again, quality and attention to detail are important. Vibrant colors and beautiful stitching should look good even after years of use.

There will be plenty of other decisions to make about dog supplies and accessories over the course of your dog’s lifetime, so be sure to pace yourself. Aside from food, nothing is as important as his collar. Investing some time early on to determine which dog collar is best for him will pay off in the long term.

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